PRESS STATEMENT BY SOUTH-EAST SOUTH-SOUTH NETWORK (SESSNet) ON WORRISOME LAPSES IN THE ON-GOING INEC PVC REGISTRATION PROCESS WHICH MAY LEAD TO THE MASS DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF MILLIONS OF VOTERS IN THE SOUTH-EAST AND SOUTH-SOUTH REGION
The South-East South-South Network (SESSNet) has been monitoring the ongoing nationwide Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Personal Voters Card (PVC) Registration processes with particular interest in how the process is being handled in the South-East and South-South region.
SESSNet is a civic action organization comprised of persons from Nigeria’s South-East and South-South, and focused on creating and sustaining a critical mass of the population to champion the quest for justice, equity, and good governance in a restructured Nigeria.
In furtherance of its enshrined objectives, SESSNet has engaged in continuous understudying, monitoring and evaluation of the prevailing geo-political and socio-economic environment which manifests in the injustice and maladministration that besets the South-East and South-South region with a view to highlighting such issues, proffering solutions to them and forestalling repeats of actions and events that have kept the peoples of the twin zones in the pitiable state they have been consigned in the Nigerian polity.
Reports reaching SESSNet Secretariat regarding the INEC-PVC Registrations processes from our members and associates across the various Local Government Areas in the South-East and South-South region reveal a very flawed process epitomized by amongst other issues:
1. Faulty or non-functioning equipment (computers and finger-print scanners),
2. Poorly and/or improperly trained INEC personnel,
3. Arbitrary demands from intending registrants: demands have included requests for copies of International Passports to show evidence of not being in Nigeria during the last registration of voters exercise in 2014 and evidence of employment.
4. Insufficient or non-availability of either INEC personnel or registration material and equipment in some INEC Wards.
The problems identified above cuts across, in various degrees, the 11 States of the S-East and S-South region. These problems has created widespread disillusion and anxiety amongst eligible voters in the region due to fears of likely disenfranchisement resulting from not being able to register within the time allotted for the process by INEC.
The systematic and widespread nature of the problems encountered in the South-East and South-South during this INEC PVC Registration process, contrasts sharply with the smooth and hitch-free registration experienced in the Northern region and give rise to grave concerns.
In the absence of any other explanations, this indicates a deliberate and express intention to ensure that likely voters in the South-East and South-South are disenfranchised.
The current impasse in the INEC PVC Registration process in the South-East and South-South reminds of the very partial and pathetic experience witnessed in the region during the 2015 Presidential elections; when mass failure of INEC Voting equipment (computers and PVC and finger-print readers) and systemic failure of INEC personnel and material deployment disenfranchised many eligible voters.
There is therefore palpable apprehension that this a re-run of the 2015 failings, which may be repeated in 2019 – an early election rigging in progress.
In the light of the foregoing, SESSNet calls upon the leadership of INEC, as a matter of UTMOST URGENCY, to:
1. Undertake a comprehensive review of its PVC Registration operations and activities in the South-East and South-South region with a view to ensuring that requisite equipment and qualified personnel to man them are deployed across the South-East and South-South.
2. Streamline the requirements for documentations for registration across the country such that intending voters in the South-East and South-South are not subjected to more strenuous conditions than their counterparts in other parts of Nigeria.
3. Extend the period of PVC registration process such that intending voters will be able to register on a continuous basis until one week to the election date.
While we urge all qualified citizens in the South-East and South-South region to take advantage of the INEC PVC Registration exercise to ensure they register and collect their PVC’s for use in elections, SESSNet urges INEC to ensure a level playing ground for all peoples and parts of the Nigerian Federation to ensure justice, equity and peaceful conduct of elections.
Finally, we hereby warn that SESSNet will not hesitate to seek judicial remedy to enforce above demands.
Signed For South-East and South-South Network (SESSNet)
Eze Eluchie Esq